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Sir Geoffrey Finsberg : My hon. Friend is right. It is interesting how suddenly the Labour party changes its tune. Fifteen months ago, its members flooded my constituency with allegations that the community charge, which will eventually be part of an education charge, will be more than £700. The Young Socialists have suddenly

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revised that figure to more than £600, whereas the rest of the Labour party have changed their minds and altered it to about £500. The Labour party attempts to scare people. We saw that tactic again this afternoon, when my hon. Friend the Minister for the Arts made his statement about library services. Labour put about the lie that there is to be a charge for those basic services, whereas my hon. Friend made it clear from the beginning that that is not true. Letters were sent out at the behest of local authorities such as Camden, trying to kid the public that charges would be made for the basic library service.

I believe that my hon. Friend is right and that the House should pass the order. My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) is also right about why more money is being made available to ILEA. My hon. Friend the Minister has looked at its proposals on two occasions. My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, North asks whether the same would apply if his local authority also wanted more money. He should be grateful that his county is sensible and sane, and is not rate-capped. That is the difference between the two. I envy my hon. Friend, as, I believe, do many hon. Members. My hon. Friend the Minister made a fair and clear case based on unimpeachable statistics and on London's education needs. Her comparisons were drawn from a source--the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy--that I do not believe to be Right-wing, and I think that her case is right.

11 pm

Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney) : This is a precept limitation order debate. It is also a debate about a cut of some £66 million in ILEA's budget this year, coming on top of a cut of some £90 million the year before. The effect of the cut must be seen against a background that I think all who are in touch with inner London will recognise--that of a growing and serious increase in the shortage of teachers available to ILEA and, indeed, to its successor authorities.

The reasons for that shortage are, I think, generally understood, although it may be worth pointing out that the ILEA area must compete not only with outer London boroughs but with other, perhaps more attractive, parts of the country for the same supply of teachers coming out of teacher training colleges. The shortage is, in my view, the most serious problem that the House should consider today, and I want to illustrate the difficulties in my own borough of Tower Hamlets.

We do not suffer simply from a shortage of teachers in the general sense. We do not merely have the shortage of maths, physics and chemistry teachers that is so familiar to most hon. Members. My local division 5 education officer told me in a letter only a few weeks ago that he could not recall a problem as acute as today's occurring at any time during the eleven and a half years in which he has occupied his present position. He mentioned a shortage of 102 teachers in the borough's secondary schools, 92 in the primary schools and more than four in the nursery schools. He goes on to say--and the House should think seriously about the implications :

"As far as the position of children out of school is concerned the number currently registered is about 470".

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In other words, 470 counted kids are roaming the streets--or perhaps many are kept indoors with their parents-- who should, under the law, be receiving education but who cannot find a place at school in the borough of Tower Hamlets.

There are two reasons for that. First, in the past there has not been an adequate supply of building for extended classes and new schools, although the present position has now been overtaken by the chronic teacher shortage. The letter to which I have referred itemises ILEA's plans to deal with the perceived and growing shortage of primary school places.

The Wessex street school was to be opened in January and was to provide initially for up to 60 children. The Halley street school was also to be opened early in January. That school was to take up to 150 children. A third school, at Hermitage wall, Wapping, was supposed to take up to 110 children.

The headmaster, his deputy and two supply teachers have been recruited for the Wessex street school. Only the headmaster has been appointed to the Halley street school, and only the headmaster and his deputy will arrive at the Hermitage wall school by Easter. The most recent information that I have from the borough is that the headmasters of those schools say that they will have to close classes and send children home because the teacher shortage is growing worse month by month. The primary schools in the borough depend almost entirely on Australian and New Zealand teachers who come to Europe for a few years.

Mr. Holland : Will my right hon. Friend confirm that both in his borough and in the borough of Lambeth, which covers my constituency, we cannot get even supply teachers for primary schools and that has caused a crisis? Children are being sent home from schools that are only a few hundred yards from here.

Mr. Shore : That is the nature of the crisis. It is not a question of the authority making and mending with supply teachers. They are not there. If anything goes wrong the class has to be sent home. Nobody is available to provide cover, either on a temporary or on a slightly longer- term basis. I have illustrated that point by referring to three new schools that cannot be opened to take pupils who should be in full-time education because teachers are not available to man them. In her astonishingly complacent and arithmetical speech the Minister of State showed no concern, but she does not have to cope with the problems that face children and their parents in inner London boroughs.

The crisis in my borough is likely to become even more serious. Population growth is rapid, almost explosive. It is expected to grow year by year and the demand for teachers will grow rather than diminish. The Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts is taking evidence on the matter. All the evidence points to the fact that the teacher supply problem, both nationally and in London in particular, will grow worse in the years ahead.

A few days ago ILEA passed a resolution that was addressed to the Secretary of State. It was an extraordinary statement for any authority to make. It says :

"The authority acknowledges that, despite its best endeavours, the crisis in education in Tower Hamlets continues to worsen. After consultation with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets an All-Party delegation should

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make representations to the Secretary of State to seek to ensure that special attention be given to the educational needs of an area which are now beyond the resources available to either Authority or its successor Borough."

That is one of the gravest statements that any education authority can ever have made in the long history of public education. To be presented with an order that reduces by £66 million ILEA's spending ability--above all, its ability to recruit teachers--makes me absolutely sick.

11.8 pm

Mr. Gerald Bowden (Dulwich) : Conservative Members have an advantage in the debate. Among our number are those who have served on ILEA. I served for seven years. My hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Bennett) also served during that time. He and I have an added advantage. We were both pupils at what were then London county council--the predecessor of ILEA-- schools.

Mr. Corbyn : Until what age?

Mr. Bowden : Until the age of 18. If the hon. Gentleman will contain his impatience he will hear the full story.

My hon. Friend and I both taught in ILEA schools and were both governors of ILEA schools. Having served on ILEA, we feel that we have been through this budget debate before. When we hear the tired old arguments trotted out by the Opposition we both have a yawning sense of deja vu because we know that, although the problems of London may be greater than those in any other part of Britain, the financial problems are of ILEA's own making. Ten years ago we showed how savings could be made if there was a will to make them. They were not made and the harvest is now being reaped.

I shall deal briefly with one or two matters that are illustrative of the whole malaise. We recognise the education needs of London and know that they will require more than the expenditure in more prosperous parts of the country. However, extravagant expenditure is quite out of hand. ILEA spends a disproportionate amount on administration and on political initiatives and too little on the needs of education.

Ms. Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington) : Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Bowden : In a moment. The hon. Lady is rather impatient. I shall now deal with ways in which money could be saved.

Many years ago we said that the number of buildings was far in excess of what was required for the schooling of London. We suggested that some of the capital invested in those buildings could be realised and devoted to current expenditure. More important, the revenue consequences of retaining and maintaining those buildings meant that money was being spent on non- education needs. There was a need about 20 years ago, or at the latest 10 years ago, to look into how a cost-effective education service could be provided in London. That need was dismissed as being quite inappropriate in looking at future education provision in London.

ILEA has an expensive and inefficient method of providing the necessary transport for children in London to move from school to playing field and from home to school. Perhaps the greatest extravagance, the greatest profligacy, is to be seen in the direct labour force that maintains education buildings. Hardly a school that I visit does not have some complaint about delays in carrying out

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some fairly minor piece of work. Somebody comes to inspect the work and then somebody comes and measures it. Someone is then supposed to deliver the materials to do the work, but they are not there when the workmen arrive and the process has to be gone through again. A swift and efficient maintenance service cannot be provided using such methods. We need greater priority to education rather than to administration.

Ms. Abbott : Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the real measure of Conservative concern for the education of children in inner London is that most inner London Conservative Members have chosen to boycott the debate?

Mr. Bowden : I wonder whether that comment is wholly justified. Perhaps those more numerate than I could calculate the number of Opposition Members who are present. I think that Conservative Members are in the majority, but we shall find out in the Division Lobbies whether there is support for the measure.

ILEA has been profligate and wanton in its extravagant expenditure. The money has been spent not on the education needs of London but on administrative overheads and services that are union-dominated and which the political leadership at county hall is frightened to disband.

Mr. Harry Greenway : Inner London schools have great difficulty in getting repairs done. I have some examples to illustrate the point that my hon. Friend made. Many schools have flat roofs, designed by the absurdly inefficient architects' department. If flat roofs were not built, there would not be so many leaking roofs--a major problem in many schools. To repair the roofs, it is first necessary to call in the architects' department, which in turn calls in consultants. They have to look at the job, and then see the contractors and put out a contract for tender. It took five years for one school to get its badly leaking roof repaired. This is a serious matter.

Mr. Bowden : In this sector, economies could be made and a more efficient service provided.

The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) spoke about the shortage of teachers. This is a manifestation of the failure to give education needs proper priority. I speak to a number of teachers and ask why they do not apply for the vacant headship posts. I hear that when headships are advertised, the calibre of applicants is disappointing to those who are responsible for drawing up the short lists. The reasons given by the majority of those who could and should be appointed is that they find oppresive the political interference from county hall in education matters. They are not prepared to take this on. [Interruption.] That reaction from Labour Members makes it obvious why such people do not feel comfortable about making their thoughts known. In many cases, they are frightened to explain their fears, but these are made manifest in the fact that they do not apply for vacant posts.

11.17 pm

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey) : The fallacy of Tory arguments and the complacency shown by the Minister can easily be demonstrated. Throughout its history, voters have not voted for a Conservative ILEA administration. At the last general election, the majority of seats within inner London were not won by Conservatives.

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The last ILEA by-election, on 1 December, was in my constituency. The Labour party did not do very well, winning only 5 per cent. of the constituency vote, and the Tory party got only 1 per cent. of the electors of Southwark and Bermondsey to support it. That was out of a turnout of 17 per cent.

When ILEA was abolished last year, it produced more correspondence than any other matter in my six years in the House, and I have never had one letter asking for the rates in my constituency to be reduced so that the precept could be less. Substantial numbers pay, and the debate tonight is about whether the people of inner London should pay for ILEA. We are dealing not with taxpayers' money, or

Government-distributed money, but ratepayers' money. It is about whether they should pay what they would wish to pay or have it reduced by 22p per head. The Minister did not give one example showing that the ratepayers of inner London want 22p a head deducted from their contribution for the future of their children's education.

As the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) said when speaking about Tower Hamlets, a cut of £150 million in two years, which is the implication of tonight's order, cannot be sustained by any authority, let alone with the demise of ILEA next year.

I am not defending ILEA's record on thrift. There are certainly areas which have been badly managed and areas where the service delivery has been poor. The results in many areas have not been good educationally. That is not a factor of its administration ; it is caused by the amazing diversity and difficulty of the cumulative problems in inner London over many years.

In the last year, ILEA has made mammoth efforts to assimilate cuts of £90 million. The hon. Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) referred to the report of the district auditor, which was written by Mr. Skinner. The hon. Gentleman should have read the report. The district auditor is not critical of the way in which ILEA set about remedying the problem. The slack that has already been taken up has resulted in the pupil-teacher ratio being the same as the Department of Education and Science average. Maintenance costs have been substantially cut, and repairs are not being done. ILEA did not say that it was unwilling to have restraint. It suggested a not unreasonable cut to 80.99p, more than the Government are allowing, but less than last year. The Government did not accept that. The precept will still be less than 2 per cent. higher than five years ago, even though general price inflation in the same period, irrespective of the increases which affect education provision, such as housing, was 27 per cent.

The Minister's argument that inner London has higher costs is completely invalidated. She should have done the House a greater courtesy than to try that on again. The Government recognised that just the other day. For the first time they have taken Z scores into account in assessing the needs of the National Health Service. With Z scores being taken into account in the country, the suggestion is that RAWP should be abolished. Under the Government's plans for the Health Service inner London will get more, because the Government recognise that it

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needs more. Yet when it comes to applying the same budgetary and accounting lessons to ILEA, the Government do not come to the same conclusion.

Exactly the same criteria affect educational provision in inner London. The poverty, the deprivation and the ethnicity--the factors which enable the Government to give more money to the Health Service in inner London--apply also to education. We need more language tuition and more special needs provision. The people who are most deprived and most in need will not get the resources that they need next year. The consequences will be larger class sizes, fewer support teachers, less time to spend on the educationally disadvantaged and less ability to cover the curricula.

Hon. Member after hon. Member has said that there is a desperate position because of teacher shortages. I have experience of classes being sent home. At Grange primary school in my constituency there is neither a regular teacher nor a supply teacher. There is not a word from the Minister about that. She is not bothered about whether the kids have a teacher or are getting education. All she is worried about are statistics. Government dogma is applied again and again. We have heard nothing about a broad and varied curriculum or about making sure that standards rise : we just get statistics rolled out to support the dogmatic argument.

The reality is that the cuts have already bitten too hard. Maintenance is not being done. The voluntary sector is being priced out. Scouts, guides and youth groups cannot use schools for the community activities which the Government say they applaud. Discretionary grants to students are being reduced. ILEA cannot fund services which the Government have always said they want to support. The Government argue for increased access to higher education, but they are reducing the number of students who can go on to higher education. Such is the contradiction in their policy.

Now the Government are asking ILEA to cut further in the very year when the boroughs have to take on the responsibility, when officers are leaving, when the finance department of ILEA is under most stress, and when the cost of transfer adds to the costs of ILEA. The reality is that, when services are cut, they are unlikely to be restored. It is all very well to say that the boroughs can start again, but the reality is that they will not. It is clear that ILEA will be forced to leave a legacy of disadvantage in the years to come. Abolition is causing ILEA problems enough. Abolition, plus the Government's arbitrary imposition of a lower precept limit, at no penalty or advantage to themselves, is a sign of vindictiveness. In substantial measure, the Government do not represent inner London. They do not understand it and they do not care about it. They are clobbering it for the sake of 22p per ratepayer. It is disgraceful. The Minister and her colleagues should realise that they are doing education and their own credibility no service by the ridiculous and unjustified argument that they have advanced this evening. 11.26 pm

Mr. John Bowis (Battersea) : I represent inner London and I care about inner London. I have proved that by being elected to represent what was a Labour seat in inner London. That being so, I shall refute the absurd arguments advanced by the hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey (Mr. Hughes).

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Opposition Members have made much of what they have been told by their constituents. I was out last night in my constituency on the borders of Lambeth, in what is known as a divided street. I bumped into someone who I thought was one of my constituents but who happened to be a constituent of the neighbouring borough of Lambeth. The young gentleman said, "I'm sorry that I'm not one of your constituents." I replied, "That's your bad luck, isn't it?" He said, "That's right--I pay twice the rates that I would if I lived over the road in Wandsworth." I responded by saying, "You know why that is, don't you? There is the Lambeth element and the ILEA element." He agreed and said, "The worst is that, come the changeover, I shall still be in a Labour borough when across the road there will be good education run by Wandsworth. I wish I lived there." That is the truth. That is what is happening in inner London.

Mr. Holland : We have just heard an example of Tory party political propaganda based on the two-sides-of-the-street argument. We have heard such examples on many occasions. In the 10 years that I have been a Member of Parliament I have not heard one constituent in the borough of Lambeth make the complaint that the hon. Gentleman has described. I have travelled around the borough on many occasions-- [Interruption.] --but I have heard the complaint only from Tory Members this evening, and then from a sedentary position.

Mr. Bowis : Perhaps that is why the hon. Gentleman's constituents keep coming to my surgery.

Mr. Gerald Bowden : Should there be any vacancies in Wandsworth schools when Wandsworth children have been accommodated, will my hon. Friend reassure me that the borough would be prepared to accept Lambeth children who might wish to go to them?

Mr. Bowis : If it were in my gift, I should be happy to accede to my hon. Friend's request. I know that my colleagues who are members of Wandsworth council, and who will shortly be running education in the borough, will be opening the doors to the parents of children in Lambeth and elsewhere, and I have no doubt that they will be flooding through them.

Mr. Nicholas Bennett : Is my hon. Friend aware that one of the reasons why the hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Holland), a public school boy, has not been receiving any representations from his constituents about ILEA is that he went on 18 foreign trips last year?

Mr. Bowis : I have no answer to my hon. Friend.

Mr. Holland : Apart from the fact that my Opposition Front Bench responsibilities happen to involve international economic affairs--I am glad to be informed on such matters, unlike Conservative Members--I provide a surgery four Mondays a month in my constituency with few exceptions. Will the hon. Gentleman tell us how often he provides a surgery of his own?

Mr. Bowis : Perhaps I should not allow this debate to develop. It is plain that the hon. Gentleman's attendance at so many interesting international conferences throughout the world, including Florence, means that he is not present to hear the complaints of his constituents about the rates paid by Lambeth residents compared with those paid by Wandsworth residents. Now that the hon.

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Gentleman is back in London I am sure that he will find time to wander around the streets occasionally to pick up the message that I received yesterday.

We have had our standard debate on ILEA. Sadly, such debates are a diminishing pleasure because we shall shortly be considering the way in which education is organised in the boroughs. Apart from the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) who made some interesting comments about teachers, this has been a waffly debate. The right hon. Gentleman spoke about teacher shortages and I have some sympathy with that. My hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden) spoke about the cost management of ILEA, which has helped to cause the problem. The right hon. Gentleman opened up the debate on whether we should have national teacher pay negotiations and I believe that he also hinted at the possibility of attracting subject teachers according to the needs of the market. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will convince some of his hon. Friends of the good sense of that.

Mr. Patrick Thompson : I, too, am concerned about teacher shortage and supply. The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) referred to that shortage, but does my hon. Friend agree that it is a bogus point? When teacher posts are advertised, the money has already been put aside. There are other ways to address the teacher shortage which have nothing to do with the order.

Mr. Bowis : I entirely agree.

Another important factor behind the teacher shortage in inner London is the teaching environment. Over the years, teaching in ILEA schools has become increasingly unpopular. That problem was illustrated by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw), who sadly is no longer present. I believe that he described ILTA--the Inner London Teachers Association--as a bunch of warring Trots. That is why teachers do not want to teach in inner London. The blame must therefore lie with the Labour party and the Left in London rather than with the Government.

Synthetic rage has been expressed by Opposition Members. The hon. Member for Southwark and Bermondsey said that he had not received any letters calling for a reduction in the rates. I have had no letters from my constituents asking that the rates should be allowed to rise to cater for the increased expenditure and generosity of ILEA. The ratepayers of inner London are grateful to the Government for ensuring that costs are kept under control.

The hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett), accompanied by his sidekick the poet--the hon. Member for Hackney, South and Shoreditch (Mr. Sedgemore), who sadly is no longer present--once again graced our debates on ILEA. The hon. Member for Leeds, Central referred to the complaints received from Wandsworth, Kensington and other boroughs about the level of spending. I must inform him that no such complaints have been received from Wandsworth--I cannot speak for the other boroughs. If the hon. Gentleman can give chapter and verse about complaints received from Wandsworth, I will give way.

Mr. Fatchett : The hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that representations have been made to the Minister by his borough and other Conservative inner London boroughs to ask for a higher spending level for inner

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London because of the future knock-on effect. It is about time that the hon. Gentleman got in touch with what is going on in his borough.

Mr. Bowis : That is complete nonsense. No complaint has been received from Wandsworth or, so far as I know, from any other borough. His comments are irrelevant to the debate.

The ILEA debate is over. The decision has been taken and the administration of education is to be transferred to the boroughs. That is good news. The problems, however, remain. Many right hon. and hon. Members have referred to the fact that ILEA costs twice as much as any other authority but produces half the results. We accept that it should cost more in inner London, but we cannot accept that it should cost more and not give adequate results in the schools. Yet that is what we have been suffering in inner London in general and in Wandsworth, in division No. 10, in particular.

Perhaps there is some apprehension in Labour inner London boroughs about the takeover of education. I appreciate that, but the ballot box will be available between now and the takeover. That will be the opportunity for people to express their views on the issue. In the borough of Wandsworth there is excitement and anticipation in the air. A great deal of planning is going on and people are getting together to discuss these issues. When one talks to the teachers, the head teachers and all concerned in the schools, one finds that they are looking forward to the education opportunities that will be coming their way. They have not had such opportunities for many years.

A degree of certainty is required as we move towards the changeover date, and this instrument will help to achieve that. As that date approaches, we do not want an inheritance of excessive and wrongful spending, so we must get the costs under control. It would be churlish to suggest that ILEA had not made some progress. It has made some effort to get its spending and priorities under control, but there is still a long way to go. Even in these dying ember days of ILEA, I beg those involved to examine their priorities to see whether some of their decisions are not harming education, students, teachers, schools and colleges prior to their being handed over to the boroughs. Many areas could be examined in terms of rationalisation. I will cite just a few areas where ILEA has got it wrong. One is the whole question of discretionary grants for students, which it seems to have more or less written off. The second is the absurd decision on Wolverstone hall, the boarding school which took children from disadvantaged areas and got far better than average results from them.

Mr. Matthew Carrington (Fulham) : Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the silliest decisions taken by ILEA has been to put up the charges to voluntary organisations for the use of school halls? The charges have increased so much as to be self-defeating because voluntary organisations cannot afford to hire them, thus cutting school income rather than increasing it as ILEA presumably intended.

Mr. Bowis : That is an example of ILEA getting its priorities wrong. Another example is the Merchant Navy college. ILEA decided to close the college within a year

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and made three recommendations when taking that decision. They were that education provision should be preserved, that students should be guaranteed a means of completing their studies and that the interests of the staff should be safeguarded. Sixteen weeks remain before the demise of that college, and the college reports that none of those recommendations has been fulfilled. Attempts to transfer the education provision have failed, students do not know what will happen to them and the staff are uncertain about their future. Timetables for closure have been brought forward, changed, abandoned and brought forward again. Proposals introduced one day are dismissed as unsuitable the next, only to become authority policy the day after. No wonder those at the Merchant Navy college talk about an uncaring ILEA. That is the truth, and that is why we have these provisions before us. We contrast the uncaring ILEA--uncaring in its attitude towards the education of the children and students of London-- with the caring attitude of the Government.

11.38 pm

Mrs. Rumbold : With the leave of the House, and within the time available, I will do my best to respond to the points that have been raised by hon. Members.

Mr. Corbyn : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister sought the leave of the House to speak again. I was not aware that you had put that question to the House. Many of us feel--

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. Is the hon. Gentleman objecting to the Minister having the leave of the House?

Mr. Corbyn : Yes.

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. The Minister does not need the leave of the House to speak again. Mrs. Rumbold.

Mrs. Rumbold : I am particularly grateful for your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I want to reply to some of the points made by Opposition Members and by my hon. Friends.

I was surprised, although I should not have been, by the lacklustre speech of the hon. Member for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett), who said that anyone on the ground would know that the £25 million allocated to the inner London boroughs for transfer costs next year was inadequate. Does he ever talk to his colleagues in the boroughs? I assure him that not one of them has complained about the level of the grant. Some have gone so far as to say that it has been generous. It is high time he started talking

Mr. Fatchett : Will the Minister give way?

Mrs. Rumbold : I want to move on--

Mr. Fatchett : I thank the Minister for giving way with such reluctance. Which London boroughs have said that the grant is sufficient? I suspect that none has.

Mrs. Rumbold : I am surprised that the hon. Gentleman questions what I said. It was perfectly true. Wandsworth has been one of the authorities-- [Interruption.] I am not prepared to go into detail at this stage.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Sir G. Finsberg) and his colleagues on a splendid result in the recent local election. He has realised that, although elected ILEA members behave on the surface as though they are trying to help as

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best they can, they have left it rather late to start tackling the problem of poor teaching in schools--hardly persuasive evidence of a death-bed repentance.

The right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) spoke about teacher shortages, and I do not deny that the difficulties in this area are a cause for concern. I have been discussing them with the council and its newly appointed chief education officer. The problem is one that ILEA has allowed to develop over time. I stress that division 5 is not typical in ILEA. HMI reports show schools in other parts of London with high levels of staffing. ILEA has been quite unable to deploy teachers effectively. Fortunately, the boroughs are determined to remedy that when they take over --

Mr. Corbyn : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is a short debate. Five speeches have been made by Conservative Members, two by Labour Members and one by a Social and Liberal Democrat Member

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. I realise that a number of hon. Members have not been able to get into the debate, but there is nothing I can do about that.

Mr. Corbyn : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It appears that Conservative Members have had roughly twice as much speaking time as Labour Members, despite the fact that the latter overwhelmingly represent inner London--

Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I have no power to control the length of speeches in the debate.

Mrs. Rumbold : My hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden) made an important point about the slow and expensive direct labour organisation making an enormous difference to the authority's expenditure on repairs and maintenance of schools. That has certainly caused a great deal of delay and stress. Fortunately, again, when the boroughs take over education for themselves that will be remedied

Mr. Fatchett : What representations has the Minister received from the Conservative boroughs about the level of expenditure on ILEA and its implications for the future?

Mrs. Rumbold : Wandsworth, for example, has said that the authority should not seek a redetermination of its expenditure limit It being one and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, M r. Deputy Speaker-- put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted Business).

The House divided : Ayes 192, Noes 98.

Division No. 87] [11.44 pm


Aitken, Jonathan

Alexander, Richard

Alison, Rt Hon Michael

Amess, David

Amos, Alan

Arbuthnot, James

Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)

Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove)

Ashby, David

Atkinson, David

Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)

Batiste, Spencer

Bendall, Vivian

Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)

Bevan, David Gilroy

Blackburn, Dr John G.

Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter

Boscawen, Hon Robert

Boswell, Tim

Bottomley, Peter

Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)

Bowis, John

Boyson, Rt Hon Dr Sir Rhodes

Brazier, Julian

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